Hore: Highlanders finding ways to lose
The Highlanders continued to find ways to lose a game, captain Andrew Hore said after Friday's 18-29 loss to the Blues in Auckland.
So far as he was concerned it was a case of getting the heads up as high as possible and 'ripping into the Brumbies' next week. The players needed to take a few rocks out of the pack of burden they were carrying on their backs and enjoy their rugby, he said.
Coach Jamie Joseph was frustrated that the side copped a sin-binning at a crucial stage but was not learning from the experiences in earlier games.
"It's a lesson we're paying for dearly every week," he said.
The facts were that the scrum had been good, they had stolen Blues ball at the lineout and there was not an inability to get the ball to get over the line but impatience was adding to the pressure the team was under as they looked for their first win.
"That's something the players have to deal with. When you're losing you've just got to make sure mentally you try as hard as possible not to put too much pressure on yourself," he said.
Andrew Hore said the team had wanted to make a good start and at 10 points up 10 minutes into the game it couldn't have looked much better.
"It's a side that is trying but when you get in positions like us [no wins] you are trying too hard and it doesn't work either.
"Sometimes you just need to have a deep breath and remember what you're doing, and why you're playing footie for a start and enjoying it then get out there and have some personal pride in what you're doing and once you get yourself sorted out I think the Highlanders are going to start winning some games.
"At the moment we're looking left and right instead of looking at ourselves in the mirror, some of us, and until we sort that out we're going to keep bumbling away," he said.
Joseph said there were lessons for all players to be learned. Asked if Aaron Smith [halfback] was one of those players guilty of trying too hard and not playing up to his best form, he defended Smith.
"In fairness to Aaron he's a player who's become an All Blacks very quickly, he's tasted success at the highest level very quickly and now he's tasting the other lessons and I think that will make a better man and a better player over the long term but in the short term he's going to have a bit of pain," he said.
Mose Tuiali'i's effort had been satisfying for Joseph. He said the former Crusader had provided drive for the pack on such short notice since joining the side and he thought he would be getting more games.
And he was delighted that prop Jamie Mackintosh, who was playing his first game of the season, answered some of his critics with a strong scrummaging display, especially during three scrums right on the Blues line midway through the second half.